To All Dental Hygienists,
This meme was sent to me last year from a former dental hygiene student. I couldn’t stop laughing. I shared it with all of the dental hygiene instructors. Then I responded to the former student, “How true is this? Were we really that crazy?” YES!! This meme expresses the ridiculousness of the rules in a dental hygiene school clinic. I hear it from my family all of the time. They work in the hospitals and can’t believe how obsessed we are with infection control and professionalism. This meme says it all. It made me reflect on how strict we are in the dental clinic and I realized this meme represents our obsession with excellence; an excellence that is unrealistic. We are so consumed with making sure our hair is tied back tight, our socks are covering our skin, our uniform is pressed, we have manicured nails without the polish, we only wear completely white shoes, we only don beige scrubs, and then the white lab coat has a manual of rules on its own. Dental hygiene instructors couldn’t wait to catch someone with ankle socks on. And when it did happen, we thought the world was going to end or we might have to call in the HAZMAT team to disinfect the dental hygiene student and the clinic. The feeling was the same when I was in dental hygiene school 35 years ago. I remember not being allowed in clinic one day because my nails were too short. What was with the dental hygiene staff that forced them to go above and beyond reality? Now it’s me. As funny as this meme was, I was feeling bad that students became so stressed about the decorum in the clinic that they had to take anxiety medication. As the meme states, wearing ankle socks was such a no-no that is was considered a CODE RED! Yikes!! The mere fact that the meme says EVACUATE says how outrageous we are when it comes to something as insignificant as ankle socks. NO DENTAL HYGIENIST EVER DIED FROM WEARING ANKLE SOCKS!! This meme actually made me feel sorry for our students, and myself. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks as to why we are this way.
Number 1. We are a female dominant profession. Most dentists are males. We were forced to work for them and try to demand the respect that our profession deserved.
Number 2. What’s a dental hygienist? Many people call us the cleaning lady. UGH!!
Number 3. We pay a huge tuition. Today the average dental hygiene student pays 40,000 dollars for a three year post-secondary diploma program.
Number 4. We are registered. We have to pay a registration fee of 250 dollars every year along with association fees that cost an extra 300 dollars. Not to mention the liability insurance in case someone wants to sue us or charge us with sexual assault.
Number 5. We are female. OH, I mentioned that already. However, it is a huge barrier to the healthcare profession and we never receive the respect we deserve considering the amount of discipline and education we go through to become and remain dental hygienists.
Hence the HAZMAT and CODE RED rhetoric in the meme! We are making fun of ourselves. We as dental hygienists or dental hygiene students would be the only people to understand or make sense of this meme. It wouldn’t be funny and/or thought provoking to anyone else. For me, this meme is the epitome of the dental hygiene persona. CRAZY!!
Crazy Dental Hygienist.